Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Oil Wars 2016 - US vs Russia vs Saudi Arabia vs Iran - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Crude Oil Price Crash Triggering Global Instability, Trend Forecast 2016 - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Stock Market Crash - Last Week was The 2nd and Final Warning... - Clive_Maund
4.Stock Market Crash Apocalypse or Bull Market Severe Correction? - Nadeem_Walayat
5.TShipping Said to Have Ceased… Is the Worldwide Economy Grinding to a Halt? - Jeff_Berwick
6.Crude Oil Price Crash Catastrophe, Independant Scotland Literally Begging to Rejoin the UK - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Summers: Global Economy Can't Withstand Four 2016 Fed Hikes - Bloomberg
8.Gold And Silver: New World Order: Public Be Damned, Preferably Dead - Michael_Noonan
9.Rigged U.S. Ttreasury Bond Market Double Barreled Hidden Q.E. To Infinity - Jim_Willie_CB
10.Major Stocks Bear Market Awakening - Zeal_LLC
Last 5 days
Gold Stocks Something has Changed - 6th Feb 16
UK Interest Rates, Economy GDP Forecasts 2016 and 2017 - 6th Feb 16
Gold Price, Mining Stocks Rocket Higher - 5th Feb 16
Crude Oil Price Bottoms and Blues - 5th Feb 16
Gold and Silver: Ripe for a Recovery! China May well Change the Game - 5th Feb 16
How Pension Plans are Responding to Financial Repression - 5th Feb 16
Senior Gold Producer Goldcorp Takes Large Stake in Nevada's Gold Standard Ventures - 5th Feb 16
Tips for Smart Oil and Natural Gas Investing 2016 - 5th Feb 16
Another Corporate Giant Is Leaving the U.S. – What This Means for You - 4th Feb 16
TPP is Economic Warfare, Trade Can Make Everyone Worse Off / Governments are Stupid - 4th Feb 16
Gold and Stock Markets Inflection Points Galore - 4th Feb 16
Putin Cries Dyadya (Uncle), Is Saudi Arabia Listening? - 4th Feb 16
Gold Price Golden Bottom? Video - 4th Feb 16
Look North for Value-Priced Growth in Healthcare Biotech Stocks - 4th Feb 16 - TLSReport
BrExit EU Referendum - Britain's FINAL Chance for Freedom From Emerging European Superstate - 4th Feb 16
HUI Now Confirming Gold Price Move Higher - 4th Feb 16
Crude Oil Price Forecast 2016 As Good As It Gets - 4th Feb 16
Gold and Silver More 'Flight To Safety' Active February - 3rd Feb 16
Raytheon Company: A Defensive Stock for a Defensive Market - 3rd Feb 16
Is Silver Really a Weak Link - 3rd Feb 16
Gold to Beat Stocks 2016? - 3rd Feb 16
David Chamberlain Cameron, Britain's Last Chance for Freedom From Emerging European Super State - 3rd Feb 16
EU UK Draft or Daft Agreement By Donald Tusk to Members of the European Council in Full - 2nd Feb 16
Europe: Why It's Going to Get a Lot Worse Before It Gets Better - 2nd Feb 16
The Next Generational Bust Is Coming, Stock Market 70% Collapse - 2nd Feb 16
The Coming Stock Market Decline May be a Monster - 2nd Feb 16
S&P 500 Has Likely Entered a New Bear Phase - 2nd Feb 16
How and Why To Move Your Assets Offshore Before the Financial Collapse - 2nd Feb 16
Central Bank Created Silver Price Rally - 1st Feb 16
The Fed Is Not Hiking Rates: Risk Assets To Perform - 1st Feb 16
US Dollar and US Treasury Bonds Big Picture - 1st Feb 16
BOJ Negative Interest Rates Central Banking Crime Syndicate's War on Cash for Triggering Panic Consumption - 1st Feb 16
Elites Set to Wipe Out Stock Market Shorts Before Next Downwave... - 1st Feb 16
Stock Market A-B-C Correction Unfolding - 1st Feb 16
Nice week for Gold : It’s All about Sentiment - 31st Jan 16
Silver Price Breaks Higher on Rising Anxiety - 31st Jan 16
Stocks Bear Market Rally Underway - 30th Jan 16
Gold And Silver Current Prices Do Not Matter - 30th Jan 16
Gold Price Potential Upside 2016 - 30th Jan 16
Stock Market Bears Pulverised by BOJ Knock Out Punch, Non Technical Take Video - 30th Jan 16
Lacy Hunt: Inflation and 10-Year US Treasury Yields Headed Lower - 30th Jan 16
The Curious Case of Copper... - 30th Jan 16

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Global Financial Crisis 2016

The Solar Energy Tipping Point, Polysilicon Prices in 2012

Commodities / Solar Energy Nov 27, 2012 - 03:37 AM GMT

By: Investment_U

Commodities

David Fessler writes: Solar energy detractors point to the fact that it can’t compete without “huge” government subsidies. And up until now, I couldn’t argue to the contrary.

But very soon, those detractors will likely be eating their words. I’ve said it many times in the past: Technology marches on, and the cost of manufacturing will come down.


Well the cost of manufacturing solar isn’t just coming down; it’s dropping through the floor. By the end of this year, solar will be so cheap it will compete with just about any other form of generation. It already does in some places, and at commercial scale levels. The best part? It will do it without subsidies.

You see, solar panel prices are about to cross a tipping point. It’s all due to the drop in price of a solar module’s most crucial ingredient: polysilicon.

The Polysilicon House of Cards

Polysilicon prices have collapsed 90% in the last five years. That translates directly into lower module costs, lower panel prices and ultimately into a lower installed cost per watt.

How did this happen? Way back in 2006, there was a run on polysilicon. It turns out it’s the same material used to make integrated circuits. But all of a sudden, the solar industry was booming, and competing for what was then a limited supply.

Its use for solar was rising rapidly, and 2006 was the first year that 50% of all polysilicon went into the manufacture of modules for solar panels. And panel manufacturers were clamoring for even more.

Polysilicon makers were laughing all the way to the bank, and then some. They essentially were an oligopoly, and were earning upwards of 40% margins on their product, according to a recent research report published by GTM Research.

Prices just kept rising along with demand, and by 2008 the shortage was so severe, polysilicon was selling for over $400 per kilogram on the spot market. Margins had risen to 70%.

Naturally, this lured new players into the market, and led existing makers to expand manufacturing capacity. But they overestimated how much was really going to be needed.

By 2011, much of this additional capacity began to come online, and polysilicon prices started falling. By March of 2011, the spot price had dropped to $80 per kilogram, and by this past December, it was all the way down to $30 per kilo.

This incredibly low spot price was all the leverage customers with long-term contracts needed to renegotiate lower prices.

GTM Research predicts that in 2012, these declining silicon prices will lead to even lower module prices. At the beginning of 2011, module prices were $1.80 per watt. By the end of 2011, they were halved to $0.90 per watt.

Closing in on Grid Parity

This year, GTM expects module prices to breach the $0.70-per-watt barrier and continue to head south. Of course, with other manufacturing costs and installation being relatively fixed, lower raw material means lower panel prices. And $0.70 per watt is below the magic $1.00-per-watt level that’s widely viewed as “grid parity” for solar.

That’s the point where it makes just as much sense to use solar as any other form of generation.

The system I installed at my farm is 10.08 kilowatts (KW). Over its 25-year lifetime, it’s expected to produce an average of 12,000 to 18,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year.

I’m leasing my system for five years, and will then purchase it. My total all-in cost is about $27,000. (Since I’m leasing the system, I don’t receive any government subsidies or tax breaks.)

Let’s assume that the system produces the minimum amount per year, 12,000 kWh.

Multiplying by 25 and then dividing by the cost of the system, we come up with $0.08 per kWh. My current electricity from the grid operator costs $0.14 per kWh.

That’s almost a 50% savings. If I produce even more, my savings will be even higher.

And this system has panels that were manufactured in 2011. Panels made this year will be even cheaper, and so will the all-in cost.

Misinformation and Black Eyes

So what’s keeping solar from being widely adopted? Lack of information, for one…

The industry got quite a black eye over the Solyndra deal.

GTM Research Senior Analyst, Brett Prior, believes the industry will continue to grow at 10% to 20% per year for the foreseeable future. He had this to say about the polysilicon market today:

“After a half-decade of silicon demand outstripping supply, the aggressive expansion plans finally overshot.

“This supply/demand imbalance will push producers to lower contract prices closer to the level of manufacturing costs at $20 per kilogram, and will force higher-cost manufacturers to exit the industry.

“The end result is that the current roster of over 170 polysilicon manufacturers and startups will likely be winnowed down to a dozen survivors by the end of decade.”

I believe that as prices continue to drop, solar will continue to gain in popularity.

Big panel manufacturers like U.S.-based SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWR) will be around when the dust settles. They currently make the most efficient (19%) commercially available panels in the world. The stock is way off its highs of a year ago, but is up a healthy 22% since the beginning of the year.

So is it solar boom time? I don’t have a crystal ball, but with module prices continuing to drop, it becomes more attractive every day. That’s good news for panel manufacturers, as they’ll continue to improve as volumes ramp up. Investors certainly won’t find them any cheaper than they are right now.

Source: http://www.investmentu.com/2012/January/polysilicon-green-energy.html

by David Fessler, Advisory Panelist, Investment U

http://www.investmentu.com

Copyright © 1999 - 2012 by The Oxford Club, L.L.C All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Investment U, Attn: Member Services , 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 Email: CustomerService@InvestmentU.com

Disclaimer: Investment U Disclaimer: Nothing published by Investment U should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investment advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication or 72 hours after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Investment U should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Investment U Archive

© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History